Psalm 36


This psalm contrasts the difference between those who seek to live according to God’s wisdom with those who seek to live according to their own wicked wisdom.


‘For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this psalm was for the director of music and written by David.

Some commentators believe that the ‘director of music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6. The addition in the heading, ‘the servant of the Lord,’ also appears in Psalm 36:1-4

‘I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes. In their own eyes, they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good. Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong.’ Psalm 36:1-4

We must note that other translations don’t begin with the words, ‘I have a message from God’, they usually begin with the words, ‘the transgression of the wicked saith within my heart’.

David is basically saying he has a message from God concerning sin, for the wicked, that is, those who practice sin. The message comes from God, Genesis 22:16 / Numbers 14:28, placed in David’s heart and so, God uses David to speak to the wicked, 2 Samuel 23:1.

The apostle Paul quotes the words, ‘there is no fear of God before their eyes’, in Romans 3:18, and he applies the words to both Jew and Gentile, those who were proud and hardened in their hearts. Anyone who doesn’t fear the Lord has no respect or reverence for God.

The wicked like to flatter themselves, that is, they are smooth talkers, Hosea 10:2 / Psalm 5:9 / Proverbs 28:23 / Proverbs 2:16 / Proverbs 7:5. They don’t have a clear view of themselves, they don’t recognise the sin within themselves, Matthew 7:3-5, and so, they smooth over their sin with lies.

Everything they say is wicked and false, Psalm 12:2, everything they do isn’t right, they aren’t benevolent and they are not kind. When they are in bed, they plot evil, Proverbs 4:16 / Psalm 4:4. It appears that the wicked spend most of their wakeful time going out of their way to do evil, Psalm 1:2 / Psalm 63:6.

The biggest problem for the wicked is that they think that no-one one will find them out, their deceiving of others is rotted on their own belief that others won’t discover their deception. In a sense, they are deceiving themselves, 2 Timothy 3:13, they have forsaken God’s wisdom and chosen a sinful course of life.

‘Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.’ Psalm 36:5-9

David now turns his attention to God, he describes the character of God and contrasts them with the character of the wicked. Notice how he describes the character of God, he speaks of God’s love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice, he describes them as the heavens, the skies, the highest mountains, and the great deep.

These are the biggest things which David can think of, each one is far-reaching and beyond measure. Job 11:7-9 / Isaiah 55:8-9.

In contrast to the wicked who lack wisdom, the righteous and the animals enjoy the preservation of a loving God. He cares for all those who love Him, Psalm 91:4, His people take refuge in the shadow of his wings, as a young bird seeks refuge under the wings of its mother, Deuteronomy 32:11-12 / Ruth 2:12 / Matthew 23:37.

The wise put their trust in God because they know all good blessings come from Him, James 1:17. It’s from God’s house, Psalm 23:6 / Psalm 27:4, that He provides abundant food, Judges 9:9 / Job 36:16 / Isaiah 55:2 / Jeremiah 31:14.

He provides us with enough to drink and notice it’s not a pond or a lake but a river, John 4:13-14 / John 7:38-39. David acknowledges that life and light come from God, he understands that these are what a person needs to be satisfied and to have pleasure in life, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

God is the source of life and the life-giver, John 11:25 / 1 John 4:9, He is the light and the light giver, John 1:9 / John 8:12 / 1 John 1:5 / Revelation 21:23 / Revelation 22:5 / 1 Peter 2:9.

‘Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. See how the evildoers lie fallen—thrown down, not able to rise!’ Psalm 36:10-12

David ends his psalm by asking God not to allow the will of the wicked to overcome those who wisely trust in God and His will.

David asks God to continue His love, Psalm 36:5 / Psalm 36:7, and righteousness, 1 John 1:9, for those who are known by God, John 17:3 / Philemon 3:10 / Ephesians 3:19 / 2 Timothy 1:12. Those who are upright in heart, in other words, those who see themselves clearly and live accordingly, Psalm 7:10.

David asks God to continue to protect those who love God from the foot and hand of the wicked, Psalm 18:40. He doesn’t want the wicked to trample all over those who God knows, Psalm 18:40, he doesn’t want the wicked to destroy those who are known by God.

David says the end result of the wicked isn’t good, they fall and can’t get back up again, no matter how often they try, Proverbs 24:16.


The wisdom of the wicked and the wisdom of those who are known by God are total opposites of each other.

Wisdom is often personified in the Scriptures, as something to be sought by those who want to live wisely, Proverbs 1:7 / Proverbs 1:20-22 / Proverbs 8:1-36. Since godly wisdom only comes from God, we must ask Him for it, 1 Kings 3:8- 13 / James 1:5.

James understood that godly wisdom is required in dealing with trials and temptations and also that the outcome of enduring trials is steadfastness which fosters perfection, completeness and adequacy, lacking in nothing.

He explained the significance of this fact when he indicated the genuine source of true wisdom, that is God, and the attitude, that is, in faith with no doubting, that must underscore the request, James 1:4-5.

Solomon appreciated the significance of wisdom. He knew that wisdom is more precious than rubies and that no singular desire of man is comparable with wisdom, Proverbs 8:11. This understating in him is probably the reason for him to ask God for wisdom when he had the chance to make a request to God at the beginning of his reign over Israel.

In Proverbs 8:12, the wise king says, ‘I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion’. This practically suggests that lacking wisdom is equivalent to lacking prudence, knowledge and discretion as all these important virtues are found in wisdom, 2 Chronicles 1:7-13.

Go To Psalm 37


"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"